I have a 02 Honda Shadow ACE I bought for cheap. Spokes and wheels were not to my standards so I decided to relace new rims with new spokes. Since I was relacing I decided to go with the 1” wider VTX1800s rim that has the exact same spoke profile / pattern as my Shadow. Plus I can fit a slightly wider 180mm tire. Research informed me that if I’m doing this to go with Stainless steel spokes. I ended up buying them from Buchanan Spoke and wheel.
First off, let me tell you about my experience with Buchanan. I called and talked to a lady, told her my bike info and she wanted to verify the sizes of the rims I was using. I made the mistake of saying I was using a wider rim from the VTX1800s but the spokes should be the same. She argued with me that the wider rim would not work with the stock sized spokes and literally told me that I have no idea what I am doing and her 18years of working there meant that she knew more than I did. I told her that I was a mechanical engineer and that I measured everything and I was sure it fit. She actually said engineering has nothing to do with it and it will not work period and if I ordered this I could not return it. Anyway, lady really pissed me off but I still wanted the spokes so I ordered them. Order was processed fast and I had them in a week (west to east coast). Everything was individually bagged and labeled with 2 small containers of lube. Quality of product and polish was excellent and IMO well worth the cost if you have some $$$ to burn. Oh and of course BTW the @#$% who said it would not work was wrong.
Oh, you will have sticker shock of the cost of these Spokes. $260 per wheel for SST polished. I could have probably saved $100+ per wheel if I polished them myself but the thought of hand polishing 52 spokes and 52 nipples per wheel made me say hell no.
Lacing the rear wheel is slightly trickier than the front. The rear has 4 different spokes and they only go in one way. What I did was take lots of pictures before I disassembled the stock wheel (reusing the stock hub). Then I took a black maker and labeled one set of four spokes 1, 2, 3, 4 right on the rim. I did the same labeling pattern on the new rim too. Then I removed the old crappy spokes I compared them size-wise to the new SST ones. Then I wrote the corresponding hole/spoke number on the bag of new ones. This would tell me what hole location each spoke type went into. I used the pics to verify the crisscross pattern was correct but once you start doing a few it becomes obvious that it only can be put together one way. Note, Need to use lube on the threads to prevent anything from binding up. This is especially true is you are using stainless steel.
Truing: Rear wheel- Tools and parts
Since I’m new to the world of bikes the 1st thing I did was go out and buy a bunch of tools. I’m the kind of guy would rather go out and spend $200 in tools to do a job that would cost $100 for some else to do. So for this specific task I bought a balance/truing stand ($80), Spoke wrench ($10), Spoke torque wrench set ($80). For measuring I used a SPI digital machinist dial indicator which I already had. The model I have runs about $200 and is extreme overkill for this job. Harbor freight $5 one will work just as well. New VTX 4.5” rim ($135), SST spokes ($260) and the hub was stock that I cleaned up with some Mothers alum polish and new bearings.
Since I have never relaced a wheel before I watched/read every tutorial that was on the internet. Actually doing it was easier than I thought technically, but it did test my patience and the fact I wanted to just get it done. You have to stop yourself from thinking like that and just go about tightening and adjusting everything with very small increments. You have to think every time you turn a spoke, what is happen when I do this and how it is moving the rim in regards to 2 planes (Axial & Radial). If you can visualize that for every ½, ¼ turn times 52 spokes then you can be successful with doing this.
So it took me 3 tries to finish it. My issue is that I come from a machinist background and something running out 1-2mm is huge. Even after reading that 1-2mm is standard for tolerance I still wanted to see how close I could get. First attempt I really just jumped in and relaced. No plan, just a bunch of mixed up thoughts and ideas. As they say, it is one thing to read about doing something but whole other thing to actually do it. So the 1st attempt ended up with the wheel all over the place. I loosened everything up and sat down and drafted an outline for the steps I would do in what order to do this job. The other two attempts I basically ended up with the same results. With the parts and type of wheel you are not going to get much closer than what I got.
Here are the steps that I wrote down.
1. Set offset using spoke on one side (top spokes with wheel flat on table). Offset calculated per OEM manual was 5mm (sec 14-8) brake side. I use 2 machinist rule (6” & 18”) to measure this.
2. Hand tighten lower spokes (wheel flat on table) verifying no offset change
3. Lightly tighten (1/4 turn) upper and lower spokes using the every third procedure. This is where you tighten every 3rd spoke pair all the way around and then you alternate until all 52 spoke a tightened evenly.
4. Move wheel to truing/balance stand. Measure runout and mark locations of extreme axial and radial with tape.
5. Correct the larger out of tolerance areas first whether they are axial or radial. This is because every correction you make to either affects both. I found my side to side measurements were always larger than my vertical. Most of the time when I corrected the axial/horiz. it would also improve the radial/vert and I didn’t have to make any adjustments.
6. Verify all runouts are within tolerance. The OEM manual shows (service limits; sec14-4) maximum actual axial and radial runouts are 2mm or .080”. This is a huge tolerance and in my opinion you should be shooting for a minimum of half that. My goal after playing with this was even much tighter. I wanted my Axial to be less than 0.6mm or .0235” and my Radial to measure less than 1mm of TIR (total indicator reading) which equal actual runout of 0.5mm (actual runout is ½ TIR).
7. Start tightening to 33inch-lbs (final torque per OEM manual (sec 14-8)
a. ¼ turn every 3rd spoke pair. Took about 4-5 passes of all 52 spokes to do this. Note, you will get to a spoke that one side will torque to 33inch-lbs before the full ¼ turn and the other side seems much looser and could turn more than the other side. I match how much it turned to the side that torqued and move on to the next pair. Eventually when you get back to the loose one it will be tighter from torqueing the opposite side. In the end you will still have to tighten all to equal torque.
8. Correct any runout if needed. All three times I trued the wheel I beat factory tolerance every time. I could have stop adjusting but I wanted better. Mostly cause I’m an anal ass, LOL.
9. My last step was to re-torque any spokes I adjusted and verify torque on all 52 spokes. I actually bumped up the torque to 36inch-lbs (3ft-lbs) in order to compensate for spoke stretch and to compensate for torque irregularities which is a whole other topic I could go off on a tangent.
So for my rear wheel my final largest runouts were.
Axial = 0.523mm TIR or .26mm actual
Radial = .968mm TIR or .48mm actual
One last note! Most people just use a pointer or a ruler across the bottom and adjust till the tolerance is visually under 1-2mm, which is fine too. I’m just an engineer who is OCD and like to waste time. It took me two days to complete this. Of course I did it three times but when I do the front rim my guess it should take about 3-4hours time. I will snap some pics when I do the front rim to post in here.
I welcome any comments and criticism, especially for anyone who has better way or is more experienced. I am hoping this could help anyone who wants to take on such a project. For me it is fun to learn something new and challenge my skills and mental abilities.